In this study, the inhibitory effects of lindane (LIN) on originally unacclimated mixed anaerobic cultures were investigated by anaerobic toxicity assay (ATA) experiments. ATA experiments revealed that 10 mg/l LIN exerted inhibitory effects on anaerobic cultures, which was recoverable. Continuous reactor experiments conducted to determine the inhibitory effects of LIN and the maximum LIN loading rate achievable in two-stage upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors indicated that anaerobic granular cultures were successfully acclimated to 30 mg/l LIN. The maximum LIN loading rate and minimum hydraulic retention time (HRT) possible for the UASB system were 10 mg/l day and 18 h, respectively, which resulted in the overall chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiency of 89%. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.